Mikayla Burgess’s dance career is on point, and en pointe.
The 13-year-old has been chosen to head to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s summer school this coming July.
The world-famous company sends out scouts to comb the country for talent, and Burgess attended a master class and an audition in Nanaimo on Oct. 12, the assessor’s only stop on the Island in 2018.
“Last year I auditioned for them but I didn’t get to go to their summer school. This year I auditioned again. I’ve auditioned for their Nutcracker before and I was an angel in their Nutcracker,” she said in an interview at her Cowichan Bay home.
Mikayla started dancing when she was five. She started dancing with Steps Ahead Dance in Mill Bay but transferred to a teacher in Victoria.
“When I was about eight I went to Pacific Dance Centre. I have had Maureen Eastick as one of my teachers and Leah Wickes, too.”
The teenage dancer has been doing pointe ballet for about a year now and dances four days a week.
Dancing runs in the family. Mikayla’s mom, Camilla Burgess, was a fine ballet student as well.
“Leah Wickes now owns Pacific Dance, Maureen used to own it,” said Camilla. “I used to dance there myself.”
In fact, as Camilla Towner, she also caught the eye of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
“When I was a little girl, I went there to the summer school, too. So, it’s pretty special,” she said.
Mikayla’s going to attend what is now called the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s professional division summer session in 2019.
Ballerinas start quite young, and at 13, Mikayla is right on the cusp of looking at a career in ballet.
Asked if she is hoping to attend a live-in program in Winnipeg, Mikayla said she would like to.
“But mom won’t let me. Maybe when I’m older, ” Mikayla says.
“They have auditions for the summer school and then, while you’re there, they have auditions there for the year program.”
Company officials have already scoured the country holding auditions for the summer program, which means that they can then see the first-among-equals during that month.
“Maybe she might go when she’s older. I just don’t want her to move away.”
That intake at the year-round school in Winnipeg starts at about age 10-11 so Mikayla is right in the thick of it.
While she is at the RWB school, however, “we will have ballet classes every day, including pointe work, but we also get character dance, modern dance, and we learn about the history of dance, creative movement, conditioning, music repertoire, Spanish dance, improvisation, choreography, visual arts, nutrition, and performance enhancement.”
As a professional dancer, she’ll need all of those.
The session lasts from July 2-26: “three weeks and four days” according to Mikayla, who obviously plans to enjoy every second.
Between now and then, “I have two festival solos. I’ll do them at the Cowichan Music Festival and then some other festivals in Victoria. Also this year I’m going to be doing my intermediate exam, in Victoria.”
Asked if she hopes to become a ballerina, she just smiles, and says, “I don’t know. I’m loving it now.”